When it comes to granola, I am a picky bitch.

Either the clusters aren’t big enough, or the fruit looks freeze dried. There may be too little nuts or too many. Sometimes it’s too sugary, or just not sweet enough. Sometimes the granola contains ingredients I can’t pronounce or identify. And if I manage to find a granola that meets all of my requirements, it’s 10 bucks a pint. Unacceptable.

It’s a supreme challenge to find a granola that is just right.

The only solution to my Goldilocks conundrum is to make my own. I can decide how big the clusters are, what fruit to put in and how many nuts it will have. The sweetness level is completely within my control. And all this granola control comes at a much cheaper price over the couture granola being hawked at the health food store.

All you need is a good basic granola recipe in your repertoire, then you can swap out flavorings, fruits and nuts until the end of time based on your budget and taste.

Perhaps next time I’ll add a little ginger, dried peaches or cardamom?

Fig and Hazelnut Granola

1/2 c + 2 tbsp (6 oz) honey (or substitute with 3/4 c brown sugar plus 2-3 tbsp water to dissolve)
1/4 c (2 oz) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
3/4 tsp salt
6 c (20 oz) oats
1 c (4 oz) sunflower seeds (sesame seeds are great in this as well)
3/4 c (4 oz) hazelnuts, cut in half
2 c (10 oz) dried figs, cut into eighths (a good mix is half mission/half california figs)

Get step by step photos of this recipe on the Facebook page.

Notes for your perusal:
Like I said above, the basic recipe is all you need. Then you can swap out the nuts, fruit and seasonings as you desire. What you need to keep is the honey, vegetable oil, salt and oats. Everything else is swappable. If you decide to add spices, extracts or freshly grated ginger, add them to the honey-oil mixture. Dried fruits should always be added after the granola is removed from the oven. It’s already dried, so it would be rather leathery if dried any further.

Preheat oven to 325F (162C). In a small bowl, mix together the honey, oil, vanilla and salt. Heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds if honey is stiff.

In a large bowl, combine oats, seeds and nuts. Add honey mixture and toss to coat.

Spread mixture on two large cookie sheets in an even layer. The granola will not toast properly if it is too crowded. Bake for 7m. Remove from oven. Using a spatula, turn and mix the granola. Return to oven and bake for 7m more until golden.

Remove from oven. Stir in fruit while it’s stil hot.

Let cool. Store in airtight container for 2 weeks.

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